A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 325 – Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – January 19th, 2011

This movie has the distinction of being the Star Trek movie I have seen the most times. It’s not that it’s my very favorite, though I do enjoy it, it’s that it seems to show up on television when I’m flipping through channels. I don’t know why that is. Why this one and not Wrath of Khan or one of the TNG movies? I have no idea. I just know that I’ve seen that ending scene with everyone in the water more times than pretty much everything else we’re watching in these two weeks. Good thing I like it, cause if it was the Chekhov earwig scene from Wrath of Khan I kept happening across I think I’d be less amused (love the second movie but that scene gives me the willies).

For some reason I also suspect that this is the first Star Trek movie I saw all the way through. I mentioned that my parents are big Trek fans, but they were never all that into the movies. They could quote the show all night long, but the movies just never seemed to click for them I guess. And oh, my mother was merciless about this one, with its time travel plot and saving the whales. She’s all for saving the whales, but it’s such a cheesy movie and the concept is so very anvilicious. You can’t turn around in this movie without getting smacked in the face with a message about how in our time we’re doing foolish and illogical things that are just going to get us killed by giant alien probes in the future. Won’t somebody please think of the alien probes! And oh, our medical practices are barbaric! We still use money! And thank goodness we did have that brief dalliance with nuclear fusion, toxic side effects be damned, or the crew might never have gotten their ship back to the future (maybe they should have contacted Marty McFly and seen if he could tinker with the Bird of Prey?) and wow, aren’t we so backwards here in the present day.

Of course, by present day I mean the 1980s. When else would you get a science fiction movie with a moral like this? Indeed, the vast majority of the movie takes place in San Francisco, present day (1986). After the crew are ordered back to Earth to stand trial for their escapades in The Search for Spock a mysterious probe shows up, sending out a message no one seems to think to poke at enough to figure out, and disrupting power sources and whatnot everywhere it goes. The crew are all still in their stolen Bird of Prey and after Uhura uses her awesome communications skills to figure out what the message sounds like underwater the crew use the ship to travel back in time to grab some whales. Cause dude, we killed all the whales! Human bastards! Killed the whales!

Anyhow, that bit doesn’t last long and the rest of the movie shows our favorite characters as they try to cope with the late 20th century in California. They have to find some radioactive material to get the ship going again, leading to the oft-quoted “nuclear wessels” bit from Chekhov. They have to build a tank that can hold the whales in the ship for the trip back. And they have to procure whales. Preferably a mating pair. And what do you know! The Cetacean Institute (filmed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is a very nice aquarium, by the way) has two whales! And one’s pregnant! Imagine that. Kirk tries his best to romance the whale biologist into letting them somehow take the whales but she’s cannier than most of the gals he tries to chat up and only ends up saying yes out of desperation. And then she totally blows him off at the end. Of course it all works out in the end, but in between there’s plenty of silliness with a race through a nuclear submarine, McCoy curing a woman’s kidney failure, Sulu stealing a helicopter and Scotty showing a present day plexiglas manufacturer how to make ‘transparent aluminum’ so they can get the materials they need for the tank. It’s ridiculous. It’s cheesy, as I said. It’s still a ton of fun.

Despite the preachiness and the dated 80s references and hair, and despite the variable mass of whales and the double dumbass and everything silly about this movie, I still love it. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking, or maybe it’s that regardless of it all, the movie still has some great moments between Kirk and Spock, and Scotty and McCoy. It’s got some fun stuff for Chekhov and Uhura and Sulu and it’s got a redemption for the crew at the end. After all, they do get the Enterprise back when all’s said and done, putting them right back on board the ship they belong on. Which is what I personally believe the title refers to. It’s not about ‘home’ being the 20th century or Earth or whatever. It’s the Enterprise and all the bizarre things they have to do to get back to her.

January 19, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

January 19, 2011

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

This movie is cheesy, silly, and ludicrous. And I can’t help loving it. At the start of the movie we are told not just that it was directed by Leonard Nimoy, but that this is a Leonard Nimoy Production. It would appear that unlike the character he is best known for portraying Lenny does actually have a sense of humor. This film is loaded with cute and classic moments, even if its “modern day” setting seems somewhat dated today.

The action in this movie picks up shortly after that in the third film with Kirk and his crew still on Vulcan preparing for their return journey in their hijacked bird of prey while on Earth the Galactic Council is preparing to court martial Kirk and all for their theft of the Enterprise. Very soon, however a mysterious alien probe with unimaginable power appears and makes a beeline directly towards Earth, disabling every ship in its path with some mysterious and powerful energy signal. Who can possibly save the planet? (Again?)

The Enterprise crew (well the Bounty crew since they’re not on the Enterprise any more) figure out that the massive alien signal (which is ionising the Earth’s atmosphere and boiling its oceans) is whalesong – specifically the song of the humpback whale. Unfortunately the humpback whale was hunted to extinction in the twenty-first century, so naturally the only solution is for the Bounty to fly into the past – going back to the nineteen eighties to find and recover some whales and bring them back to the future.

The notion of time travel is nothing new to the Star Trek universe (I could remember two episodes of the original series that involved it and a little research reveals a third) but what’s fun about this movie is that the time travel is not so much a serious plot device as it is a set up for a series of gags about how out of place the folks from the future are when in San Francisco in the Eighties. It’s fertile ground and they mine it well. As we watched tonight I found myself chortling with glee and quoting many of the great lines in anticipation. “A double dumbass on you!” “He might have done a little too much LDS.” and of course “We are looking for the nuclear wessels.” This movie may not be serious science fiction or even great drama like Khan was, but it is pure unadulterated fun.

This movie is filled with joy. Even Leonard Rosenman’s score is playful, bouncy and upbeat. It’s always fun when Star Trek explores it’s lighter side, and as a result this is among my favorite Star Trek films. Tomorrow: the nadir of the movie series and a movie I have not seen all the way through since I first saw it on opening night in the theaters. With good reason.

January 19, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , | 1 Comment